With my time in Michigan State’s Educational Technology program, the “Maker Movement” has really captured my attention. Two years ago, I went to my first Maker Faire in Detroit, Michigan. Since then, I’ve been to three different Maker Faires. This idea of creating, repurposing, and innovating blows my mind when I see examples of the way Makers view common items. Makers seem to have the perspective of life as an ever-evolving masterpiece or they see the potential to turn standard items into a contraption that measures the wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (just an example, but a true story!). As the Maker Movement is getting more attention in the educational field, this Maker spirit was re-energized within me at a recent #PLAYDATE Chicago. Using MSU and PLAYDATE as resources, I purchased the following resources to utilize with students.
To test out what a middle school student could accomplish within a certain time period, I rolled out these resources with the Tech Club after school. I wanted to see how to gauge a timeline for pushing into a classroom and doing an activity with any of these resources, so this was a great way to collect some data! The students had about 45 minutes to work and I introduced it by telling them that they were the pilot members and that our goal was to think of ways we could relate this to any subject area…this is always my challenge to them! They’ve “think tanked” awesome educational repurposes for technology in the past, so they are now owning the responsibility of figuring out educational applications of tools that don’t necessarily seem educational. Here’s where we started:
Students were eager to get started! The directions that I gave them were to use the resources they have at hand (written directions that came with product and the Internet). I told them that I’d only help if they got into an extreme bind.
- Science: Circuits and energy conversion. They haven’t learned about the types of kinetic energy yet, so we were able to discuss it in terms of the Bigshot Camera because it starts with mechanical energy and is transformed into electricity.
- Science: Importance of observations and documenting your experiments. Students began to tape the building process for later reflection.
- Math: Variables, measurement, order of operations
- ELA: I introduced how these could compare to the writing process and students elaborated on which parts were like a rubric/prompt, brainstorming, editing, peer review, etc.
- Social Studies: At one point, students were building a fan with pipe cleaners and a student commented on the colors that they selected to use (red and blue). Immediately, a student working nearby shouted, “There’s Social Studies! What do those colors mean?!)
- Art: Squishy Circuit students began to mold their Play-Doh® into animals to follow the directions of making LED illuminated animals.
- Music: Makey Makey students began to create keyboards to play songs. This calls for knowledge of notes, pitches, and rhythm.
- Collaboration: We saw happy hands and lots of them involved! There were no angry or greedy hands, but true teamwork and collaboration were emerging.
…More to come after we have our next go round after Spring Break!